London swelters in a heatwave in the summer of 1664, and in the corridors of power the temperature is equally high as an outbreak of war with the Dutch threatens to become a reality.
The sixth adventure in the Thomas Chaloner series.
In the dilapidated surroundings of the Savoy hospital, a delegation from the Netherlands has gathered for a final attempt to secure peace between the two nations. Thomas Chaloner, active in Holland during Cromwell's time, knows many of the delegates, including the sister of his late wife.
Then the body of his former brother-in-law is found in the Thames. Chaloner discovers that the dead man has left enigmatic clues to a motivation for his murder. Was he involved in a plot to steal the crown jewels, or did he fall foul of one of the many people in London who are determined that the peace talks will fail?
'Pungent with historical detail' (Irish Times)
'A richly imagined world of colourful medieval society and irresistible monkish sleuthing' (Good Book Guide)
'Corpses a-plenty, exciting action sequences and a satisfying ending' (Mystery People)
Negotiations between the English and Dutch in 1664 aimed at preventing war figure prominently in Gregory's engaging sixth historical featuring intelligencer Thomas Chaloner (after 2010's A Murder on London Bridge). Among those in St. Margaret's Church observing Chaloner's wedding to Hannah Cotton, lady-in-waiting to the queen, is a shabbily dressed uninvited guest, Philip Alden, a Royalist spy during the Commonwealth. As the bride and groom proceed up the aisle after the ceremony, a woman sitting next to Alden screams; someone has fatally stabbed Alden in the back. Soon after, Willem Hense, the Dutch brother of Chaloner's late first wife, is found floating in the Thames. Multiple plot lines involving a blackmailer, sabotage aimed at the Dutch delegation, and a shadowy figure who may be behind all the mayhem make close reading a must. As usual, Gregory does a fine job integrating fact and fiction.